Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

CHAT: Choosing Healthplans All Together - Web Version

Technology #2510


Making health care decisions is an important choice for employers as well as those in need of private healthcare. The choices can often be inscrutable for those who are not well informed about the process.


CHAT is a software package that enables groups of non-experts to work together to design health insurance packages constrained by limited resources. CHAT includes two separate programs. The Planner software enables planners (e.g., human resource or benefit officers, public health insurance program officers) to specify the total resources available for health services. It also allows changes to be made to the Player software in which benefit options may be included; what levels of those benefits are available; and/or the actual and relative costs of those options (which can be tailored, if desired, to the population of interest). The CHAT Player software incorporates the Planner’s revised inputs or uses the default values in the program. Community members, in facilitated group, compose a health insurance benefit package according to their own preferences, then uniquely experience the consequences of their hypothetical health plan through health events that illustrate expected outcomes based on their choices. Detailed decisions about resource allocation are like those typically found in managed care settings (e.g., requiring referrals for specialty care) and in the course of the exercise, participants learn to choose between competing needs for limited resources. Choices of individuals and the group as a whole, their responses to pre- and post-game questions, and their progress through the exercise, are automatically logged, stored, merged into a single database and analyzed.

Applications and Advantages


  • Design health insurance packages


  • Easy to use software